GREAT news from Wounded Warrior, dear Kimberly, who met the new love of her life, SDIT, Kimmy! Kimberly and Kimmy met at Laurel Ridge, and the bond was INSTANT! Kimberly, as intelligent and detail-oriented as she is, already had the training manual memorized. Kimmy was beautifully behaved, and started covering for Kimberly the minute they met, as poor Kimberly was shaking with nerves and excitement from this new part of her life! Kimmy heeled perfectly with Kimberly at the hospital as we walked the halls and I showed her how to use the collar properly, would sit, down, stay, and make incredible eye contact. Even the Medical Director at that Laurel Ridge unit popped her head in to see how wonderful everything was going – and she plans on integrating more Service Dogs into other patient’s treatments! Kimberly was given food, bowls, a leash, two collars, and all medical records for Kimmy. You could just see how much even having the presence of Kimmy on the Wounded Warrior ward brightened up everyone there – and the staff was amazing!
Kimberly and I talked regularly after we spent several hours together going over the basics, and have continued to talk almost every day since then. We had developed a trusting bond for several weeks before this day, and I knew a Service Dog would be perfect for Kimberly’s life at this point. The doctors allowed Kimmy to stay with Kimberly the last days she was there, and she had her own room, where they would snuggle and cuddle and were literally inseparable. Kimmy would let Kimberly know when she needed to go potty, and Kimberly enjoyed taking walks on the grounds of Laurel Ridge with Kimmy. Kimberly would let people pet Kimmy ONLY if they asked politely if they could pet her Service Dog, and if Kimberly felt comfortable with the person – and Kimmy would sit on command and allow the petting and treats.
I called the airline prior to Kimberly’s departure back home to Georgia to ensure that she would have no problems boarding with Kimmy at her 6 am flight! She did say that going through the screening was a hassle, because Kimberly is in a full-leg moveable brace and it was hard to manage everything – but she did say that many people offered her help, and for that, she was very grateful. She did remember to give Kimmy her Benadryl 45 minutes prior to the flight, and Kimmy was excellent – just a little anxious on touch-down. But she never barked or did anything inappropriate! Kimberly has worked with dogs all her life, so she and will continue to be an excellent handler.
Since Kimberly has arrived home and back to civilian life after 29 days at Laurel Ridge, she has said it’s been a bit of a difficult transition – but we both agreed she should take things slow and it will continue to get easier for her. Kimberly’s fiance is currently deployed in Iraq, but feels so much better knowing Kimmy is there to comfort her! One pleasant surprise – Kimberly has a cat named “Nubbins” (due to the fact that she has a nub for a tail) – and SDIT Kimmy and Nubbins are already best friends!! I am SO proud of Kimberly – she made her first trip out alone with Kimmy to the drugstore to get her medications – and it took a lot longer than expected due to the transferring process – but Kimberly said that having Kimmy there made a world of difference. Baby steps! Kimberly still wants to remain active duty – she loves being a soldier – and her command welcomed both she and Kimmy back onto base with open arms and commented continuously on how well-behaved Kimmy was! They are completely supportive of Kimmy being with Kimberly at work once she is settled back in – and for this, I am so grateful.
Kimberly and I will continuously train via video, Skype, email, and phone as they venture out more and more – but I am SO proud of the two of them!!!!!